Legislation allowing V.I. pharmacists to give vaccines, wellness tests advances in Senate

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Three of the four bills considered at Thursday's Senate Committee on Health, Hospitals, Human Services and Veterans' Affairs were approved, including a bill allowing pharmacists to administer vaccines and basic wellness tests.

"The bill passed. I think it's a good bill, and it's going to benefit a lot of people," bill sponsor Sen. Sammuel Sanes said.

The bill, which has been placed on today's Rules and Judiciary Committee agenda, would allow pharmacies to provide preventative care through immunizations and basic health testing.

The original bill only covered vaccinations, but an amendment in the nature of a substitute that adds wellness testing to the bill was passed Thursday.

Under Sanes' bill, the types of vaccines that could be offered at pharmacies, administered by trained and regulated pharmacists, would include inoculations against influenza, shingles, chicken pox, meningitis, pneumonia, Tdap, hepatitis A and B, and human papillomavirus.

The wellness tests would allow pharmacists to test for blood glucose levels (diabetes testing), body composition, cholesterol and blood pressure. They would even be allowed to perform drug tests.

If the territory passes the legislation, it would join the 50 states and Puerto Rico, all of which have similar laws on the books.

Another bill sponsored by Sanes, prohibiting the sale of electronic cigarettes and alternative nicotine products to minors, also passed the committee Thursday.

The committee also passed a measure updating some language in the V.I. Code relating to children with physical or intellectual disabilities to be less derogatory.

Legislation to revamp the regulations for physical therapists in the Virgin Islands was held in committee for further review.

The bills that passed through the committee on Thursday now will go to the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committee for further consideration.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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